The latest rumours doing the rounds of the internet are suggesting that the next 3 Warhammer army books to be re-released will be Empire, Vampire Counts and Dwarfs. I saw this at Fields of Blood, where it came from Tronhammer, where it came from Warseer. What a wonderful tangled web these things weave…
Anyway, these are a bit of a change from what I had heard previously, and it’s caught me by surprise. For starters, let me say straight out that I’m glad the Vampires are in the list. I have stated previously that the list needed help, as of all the lists (apart perhaps from the Tomb Kings, which have already rectified), the Vampire Counts suffered with the introduction of 8th edition. They need a breath of fresh air, so the suggestion that they are on the horizon is welcome.
I am less certain about the Empire and Dwarfs. They are two of the oldest army books (the only older books are Bretonnians and Wood Elves), and they are two of the most popular in terms of collectors and the core imagery of the game. However, both army books work quite well as they currently stand. They are also both armies that I own, so I have more of a vested interest in them. I’m not entirely sure that I’m ready for a new book for either.
When your army book is obviously weak or unbalanced and you are consequently dissatisfied with it, it is easy to look forward to the army being re-released. You stand to lose very little, and who knows what sort of goodies will be included in the new book? As a general rule you know GW will not release a much weaker book than those around it (there have been exceptions, most notably the previous Ogre Kingdoms book), so you are almost certainly going to find the new book an improvement in terms of your army’s competitiveness.
In the past, the general rule of thumb was that each new book would be more powerful than all the ones that came before it. This “power creep” was a generally accepted phenomenon – one that left players of older books frustrated and a little sad. It’s possible that games designers enjoyed the fun of making a list packed with more tricks and toys than all those that came before it, however the driving force behind the pattern was most likely sales. Even with a shiny new model range, it would be difficult to push sales of the revised army if the book made it uncompetitive. On the other hand, if the army is the biggest, baddest thing on the scene, that alone will appeal to some players and will generate sales in its own right.
Thus far in 8th edition we have seen the power creep phenomenon largely arrested. Three armies have been released at the time of my writing this article, with Orcs and Goblins, Tomb Kings and Ogre Kingdoms all receiving shiny new hardback books, all of which seem to be about on a par in terms of strength. This is far preferable to the arms race we used to be faced with, and Warhammer will be the better for it if we see it continue. The fact that the new books saw a relatively minor change to Orcs and Goblins, but a huge revision for Ogres is indicative of how varied the previous lists had been.
If the current pattern we have seen so far in 8th edition continues, where each army book seems to be on a relatively even keel, it will be interesting to see what happens when we get to the stronger army books from the previous edition. If GW truly have arrested power creep, armies like Daemons potentially stand to lose out when their book gets revised. The community as a whole would love the power levels of all armies to be roughly level, however I am not so certain that the owners of these armies would be delighted to find that their new army was not as potent as the one it replaced.
Along with the new army book, each army sees a swathe of new models accompanying the release. This is normally an exciting thing for most players, as the quality of models in the game generally improves. Occasionally it can prove problematic for someone who has not yet completed his unit of older models, however with certain exceptions, the older range tends to go on sale and appear far cheaper in the second-hand markets, so it’s normally a win-win situation. Many of us are guilty of purchasing the new model for something we already had covered with the older range, so even players with extensive collections are not immune to the Shiny New Model Syndrome…
A new army book generally presents the player with a whole new experience using his old army. It is rare for the dynamic of the army to remain completely unchanged between books, and even rarer to see the power balance between units within the list remaining exactly as-is. Spells and magic items change, new units are added, and existing units that were considered unworthy in the previous list tend to get a boost (or a price drop) to make them tempting once more. It can almost be like collecting an entire new army, without the financial outlay and painting that that involves. A new book is a breath of fresh air, and given some books can take 5 or more years to be re-released, players are often well and truly ready when the revision arrives.
|Army books come and go..|